Quoting from http://notch.tumblr.com/post/2175441966/minecraft-beta-december-20-2010 :
The next epoch is upon us! The skies are trembling, pigs are growing wings, and the nether is turning awfully cold, as Minecraft slowly crawls out of Alpha..
Minecraft will reach Beta status on December 20th, 2010.
With Beta comes a larger focus on polish and content, and we’ll start early on with adding proper modding support with a stable API, and we’d love all input we can get on this from the modders out there. We’ll also add some kind of non-intrusive narrative to the game to help drive the game experience early on, and to provide some kind of late game goal. There will be a bigger focus on testing and stability as well, with more time between updates.
When the game enters beta, the price will rise to 14.95 Euro.
We will also change the license to remove the line that promises all future versions of the game for free. Please note that this change only affects people who buy the game after December 20, so if you got the game for during alpha, you will still get all future updates for free
, despite this change. A promise is a promise.
Buying the game during beta will include all updates up until release, of course, and bug patches will be free.
Soon, you will be able to buy gift codes for Minecraft, perfectly timed for the holidays! Even better, if you buy those before December 20, accounts created from these codes will count as alpha accounts, and will receive all future updates for free.
And the next game update (with server-side inventory) is coming next week, before Beta
Merry holidays happy!